Hospitals in the Springfield, Mo., area are prodding employees to get flu shots as part of a nationwide push, the News-Leader reported in its story, "St. John's Mandating Flu Shots for Workers."

And the strictest is St. John's Health System, which plans to require its 10,500 employees, volunteers and vendors at its six hospitals to have flu shots or wear masks during flu season, according to the story. Employees who don't comply by the Dec. 15 deadline could face discipline or termination, the Springfield News-Leader reported.

Workers who don't have an approved medical or religious reason to refuse vaccination could have future merit pay raises decreased, and doctors who don't comply could see their pay cut.

If there is an epidemic of influenza and a large number of employees are absent with influenza, St. John's Health System couldn't take care of its responsibility, according to an infectious disease physician. "It's part of our responsibility to practice what we preach, to set an example," he told the Springfield News-Leader.

CoxHealth has a similar policy to encourage its 8,600 employees to be vaccinated against the flu and other diseases, although it stopped short of mandatory vaccinations, the story reported.

Susan Kline of Baker & Daniels told the Springfield News-Leader that employers may be opening themselves up to claims of discrimination about information they learn from requests for medical and religious reasons.

"I think that it is problematic to require people across the board to say that if you want to continue to work here, you have to get a flu shot," Kline said in the story.